Sunday, January 4, 2009

Oh Nuts!

I used to think a running buddy of mine was a little crazy because he was so rigid about his diet. He ate 13 almonds a day, drank protein drinks religiously, and rarely ate any meat. When my running group would go to the local bagel shop after our Saturday long runs, he’d get a fruit cup instead of a bagel. He took a lot of ribbing from the group about his eating habits.

My buddy is my age and whatever he was doing was working. His running endurance and speed keeps getting better and better and he’s in great physical shape. This made me curious about his eating habits and if there was anything to it. So I investigated nuts. Come to find out, nuts in general are high in protein and monounsaturated fat (the good kind that helps clear your arteries). Almonds, however, rule! David Zinczenko, author of The Abs Diet, says that “almonds are like Jack Nicholson in One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest—They’re the king of the nuts.” He further explains that almonds provide about 50% of the vitamin E, 8% of the calcium, and 19% of the magnesium needed each day. Magnesium is important for muscle building. Nuts also help fight obesity, heart disease, muscle loss, wrinkles, cancer, and high blood pressure.

Eating a handful of almonds each day not only provides you with important nutrients it also helps fight obesity by making you feel fuller longer. It’s best to wash them down with a glass of water which helps the fiber in the nuts expand making you feel fuller.

Zinczenko warns to be careful though. The smoked and/or salted varieties don’t make the cut due to their high sodium content. Also be careful not to select other varieties of nuts that have been cooked in oil. If you like the roasted-butter taste, he suggests spraying a handful of almonds with nonstick cooking spray and bake at 400° for 5–10 minutes, remove them from the oven and sprinkle them with either brown sugar and cinnamon or cayenne pepper and thyme. For more recipes using almonds go to

I must come clean and admit that I’ve been eating a handful of almonds each day for the past 2 years. Thanks, Paul, for being a good role model!

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